DEUTSCHE Bank has become the latest bank to apply to trade in carbon credits, joining 123 other companies seeking to deal in regulated emissions.
The German banking giant last week lodged its application with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission to have its Australian Financial Services Licence amended, with Deutsche Bank expecting approval early next year.
ASIC has so far issued 43 carbon trading licences, with companies ranging in size from COzero (see related story) and Greenfleet to ANZ, Commonwealth Bank and UBS.
Despite the dozens lining up to trade, employment and business prospects remain clouded by the possibility of a change of government at next year's elections.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has made ''a pledge in blood'' to repeal Labor's carbon tax and scrap plans for emissions trading linked to Europe's market in 2015.
There's been ''very, very little'' action lately in carbon, said Gareth Clarke, senior recruitment consultant for carbon at Bradman Recruitment Group.
The 317 companies liable to pay the carbon tax have mostly focused on compliance and may build their own trading teams once the outlook becomes clearer. ''It's happening pretty slowly at this stage,'' he said.
The government's own shifts have not helped, with the emerging industry damaged by the Rudd government's 2010 decision to ditch its Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, including an ETS.
''It was such a big loss for so many people that people are still feeling the effects of it,'' Mr Clarke said.
The carbon market, including voluntary abatement, was ''a lot more vibrant'' several years ago, said Ric Brazzale, managing director of Green Energy Trading and president of the REC Agents Association.
Even three trading activities that remain active - credits derived from renewable energy installations and energy efficiency measures, and the emerging Carbon Farming Initiative - remain subject to policy changes.
Policy stability is not without risks either. Links to Europe's ETS from 2015 would also see the likes of Deutsche Bank connecting international operations more seamlessly, threatening smaller local players.
''Yes, it is a risk,'' said Dermot Duncan, head of carbon projects at Greenbank Carbon.
''But Australia has had, with the renewable energy target, one of the longest-running market mechanisms in the world.''
Local networks also would be hard to match, he said.
Energy efficiency credits remain a promising area as the government looks to make national the best elements of the schemes in Victoria and New South Wales although little movement is expected before the elections, Mr Brazzale said.
''It's too early to be making a future in carbon trading,'' he said. ''You wouldn't be advising young graduates this is the place to be just yet.''